Video obtained from inside the Florida spa that New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft allegedly visited cannot be used by prosecutors as a judge ruled Monday that police failed to meet guidelines laid out in the search warrant.
The ruling by Palm Beach County Judge Leonard Hanser is a major victory for Kraft, who was charged in February with two misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution. The ruling does not directly affect whether the video will be released to the public, although Kraft’s legal team is expected to use Monday’s decision to further efforts to keep the footage out of the public domain.
Kraft’s attorneys also are expected to file for a dismissal of the case as soon as Tuesday, a person with knowledge of the case told USA TODAY Sports. That person was granted anonymity because the motion had not been filed.
“The Court finds that the search warrant does not contain required minimization guidelines, and that minimization techniques employed in this case did not satisfy constitutional requirements,” Hanser wrote in his order, granting Kraft’s motion to suppress the video evidence.
Kraft’s lawyers made minimization – the steps taken not to record innocent visitors to the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter – a large part of their arguments during a three-day hearing into the matter and in hundreds of pages of court filings in recent weeks.Prosecutors said four people – two men and two women – who visited the spa were recorded, although they were not among the 25 men and four women charged.
The Palm Beach State Attorney and Jupiter police were sued in April by 31 people who claimed to have visited the Orchids of Asia Day Spa for non-illicit massages.
“Video surveillance is a constant form of search that takes place over an extended period of time, and for that reason, it often captures innocent behavior that is intended to be private,” Hanser wrote.